Friday, February 26, 2010

The Opposite Of Boredom

Life - 
My how things can change overnight!

Last night Maine got hit with a pretty gnarly winter storm, though quite unlike the storms most of the rest of the East coast has been getting. Instead of snow, we got inches of rain and winds. Oh the winds! Sometimes exceeding 90 miles an hour, the trees behind the Northeastern Motel, (The crummiest little motel in the east) were whipping back and forth in a truly majestic fashion. You could hear the deep groaning of the wood echoing through the forest. We lost power at around 10, just as an episode of House Hunters was on that I wanted to see. They were buying a home in Morocco! It looked intriguing!

So instead, we sat in the dark and read or watched nature bend. This morning it was dramatic outside to say the least. Roads washed away or flooded. Trees downed and stripped of their branches. School buses blocking areas where bridges used to be. (Note: The author may be over describing things for dramatic effect)

I drive 24 miles to work, through fairly windy back roads, in a line of cars too cheap to take the wide route and pay the toll. Today, between closures, detours and LONG lines of cars, it took me almost two hours. There was a six mile section of road when my speedometer never left its peg I was moving so slow.

When I arrived to work. CHAOS. Eight stores without power, stranded employees, no contact, power coming on then failing in stores. Melting Ice cream, flying Ws, ZOMBIES!!!! EeeeEEeeee!!!!

Love it.

There's something about the breakdown of routine and modern conveniences that gets my juices pumping and for once, as the acting admin, I feel like I have something to do. I'm the brains, the mother ship for all of our poor little foundling stores. Most of whom seem to have NO idea how to cope with circumstances like this. I've spent the day coordinating stores, updating statuses, giving advice and orders and aiming for the brain stem.

BRING IT APOCALYPSE, I'll kick your butt.  

I just wish I'd brought my shotgun and drove the hovercraft to work. Getting home could be a pain.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


Life - 
Man. This job is incredibly boring some days. Most days. And the worst part is knowing that I could, in theory, be accomplishing something. I could be writing or really diving into my reading, or paying bills or something. I should be writing. I really should be editing and revising The Whispering Ferns so that some day I can start looking for an agent.

There's nothing stopping me from doing those things. I didn't see a single one of my corporate charges yesterday. The only people I saw the entire day was the UPS guy and the weird dude that works in the building next door with the 2-foot mustache. And he was just wandering past the window, likely thinking about tying damsels to railroad tracks.

But I feel guilty doing it. I feel like that if I'm at work, I should be working, or at least attempting to. So every time I start reading, I stop, twiddle my thumbs, check the email. Sigh, and go back to reading.

If I don't get beck into a store soon, I think I'm gonna lose my brain. Or stop caring and start doing my thing instead of being bored. Maybe that's the ticket.

It rained all day yesterday and looks apt to do the same again today. It's a very West coast, misty rain and I love it. Though it's odd to see it in February when other places are getting snow.

I told our landlord yesterday after work about our new place. He did not take it well. Shouting ensued on his part, he accused us of not letting him fix things, of us over-reacting. I explained to him that he broke his contract. When we signed up, it was with the understanding that he would provide utilities, cable TV (Which we didn't care about) and the internet. In 25 days, we have had the internet reliably all day for less than three days and had spotty service for less than an hour on five other days. As far as I'm concerned, that's a violation of the contract and he knows it. Honestly, it wouldn't have bothered us if he'd actually tried to remedy the problem but instead he just raises his hands and says there's nothing he can do or tells us to harass the downstairs neighbor that has the extender in his apartment. To me, if you are staying in a place, especially one that advertises itself as a motel, if there's a problem and the owner throws his hands in the air or tells you to figure out what the solution is, there's something wrong with the motel. If I owned a motel and a guest came to me and said their room had no pillows, I wouldn't hand them a pillowcase and a goose.

Anyway. It doesn't matter now, cause even if this other place falls through, we're out of there by Monday morning.

My favorite part of his rant though? He accused me of trying to steal from him. How, you ask? By plugging in and using a lamp we bought. Lindsay does cross-stitching and I do a lot of reading, and when we moved in, the only light in the front room was three recessed lights, all above the kitchen area. In those sockets were 12 watt cfls. This made for a very dim room, so we bought a $12 lamp and put two 67 watt bulbs in there. Apparently, that was an unconscionable act. I feel bad, but mostly because he thinks that is a huge power drain and not the 24 year old fridge that runs 24 hours a day he had in the room or the two laptops, game boy, ipods, TV, phones, beard trimmer and crock pot that we had plugged in most of the time. To say nothing of the 50" TV that the neighbors have in their room... I guess I should have gotten one of those. I bet I could have read by the light of my plasma tv....

Reviews Of Unusual Size - 

Books - 
by William Lashner
2009, 400 pages

1 - The first stand-alone novel from Lashner, who has previously written 7 books about the morally loose Philadelphia lawyer Victor Carl. This time, the story focuses on a slacker named Kyle Byrne and his daddy issues

2 - Like most of Lashner's work, the characters are memorable and likable, quirky and real-feeling. I would love to hear more from the detectives in the story.

3 - The novel gives up its secrets pretty early on, with little to reveal at the end, but I found myself attached enough to the Kyle and his pals to happily follow along to the end.

4 - Lashner is king of writing passages that are both simple and lyrical at the same time, especially when it comes to sex and death. Make sure to check out the blog on his site too, its full of insight into the writing process.

5 - Suit up!


Writing - 
I actually did a little bit of writing a few days ago, starting a new book. I did a bit of plotting and wrote and introductory paragraph. Not much yet but it was nice to type again.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Life - 

Friday night after work, we drive up to Topsham, ME and sign the paperwork on a rental! Hooray! No more crappy motel room for us! (Knock on wood.)

I won’t say more until it’s official, but things are looking very good and we are quite excited. This does mean that it’s likely that we won’t have any internet access for a while, but when we do, it will be because I ordered it myself and had it installed. In theory, that should make it more reliable….

5 Things About -

Directed by Martin Scorsese
Starring Leonardo Dicaprio, Emily Mortimer, Mark Ruffalo, Benjamin Kingsley
1 - We went to this thinking it was a haunted house mystery. It's not, it's a psychological thriller, but we were not disappointed.
2 - Shutter Island is directed beautifully. The setting is perfect and Scorsese's style, while recognizable from his previous films, felt different here, a bit more creative and spooky.
3 - GREAT supporting cast here. Von Sydow, Levine, Lynch, Haley... all actors that make everything they're in better. Ted Levine, best known recently for his role as Stottlemeyer in the TV show Monk is especially memorable.
4 - The location makes this film. Dicaprio was good, though I still think he looks too young for most of his roles, but without the location, this movie would have been a waste.

5 - We saw this in a little theater in North Windham. Old, a little run down, old-school seats and screens. Film scratches and pops. Five dollar admission. You know I was down with this joint. There was also a surprising number of older locals there, virtually no teenagers at all and only a few young couples. My theory is that they all drive into Portland to the swanky digital screens or the IMAX. Bah to that. Give me the grindhouse any day!



By Lawrence Block
1998, 256 pages

1 – An man who cannot sleep who bides his time by learning languages and joining lost causes finds himself wrapped up in a caper involving buried treasure, spies and revolutions, all in 256 pages? What an idea!

2 – An Idea that, while brilliant, does fall a bit flat in execution with some jumps in the story that feel missing and a bit confusing.

3 – The character of Tanner is one of my favorites now. A smart, resourceful insomniac that gets into all sorts of trouble.

4 – Some of the twists get pretty far-fetched, and aren’t quite convincing in a book this short, so it’s best to turn off your brain and enjoy the ride!

5 – Bring on the next Tanner novel!


By J.A. Konrath
2009, 304 pages

1 – FINALLY, the resolution to Konrath’s wicked cliffhanger in his previous book, FUZZY NAVEL, and it’s a great book, though the big answer to the cliffhanger, who was killed at the end of the last book, feels a little bluntly answered.

2 – Konrath, like the Always Stupendous Marshall Karp, mixes action and humor seamlessly, both sly, sarcastic jabs and out loud laughs.

3 – Kork, a scarred, sexy, demented killer, is a great character and a perfect nemesis to the detective Jack Daniels.

4 – A great mix of mayhem, mystery and enough fashion references that for a long time, I was pretty sure J.A. was a female… (That’s a compliment, Joe... I promise!)

5 – Slappy the monkey!


by Richard Stark
2008, 224 pages

1 – Stark’s grim and clever Parker is back, focused on dealing with the “Outfit” a mob-esque crime ring that has Parker in their sights. They’d better watch out, Parker doesn’t take prisoners.

2 – I love the Parker novels. They’re hard-boiled, fast reads, a lot of fun. This was an interesting one because it wasn’t about a job or revenge really, just Parker getting rid of someone that is keeping him from his jobs.

3 – Like you would assume, the Outfit never stood a chance.

4 – I have a hard time not tearing through all of these books. They’re sitting there on my nook, taunting me. “Don’t read a different author, just read the next one!”

5 – A Snub Nosed .32!


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Pissy Subject

 Life -

Take heed fair reader, for today’s blog is a bit on the odd side. One might say in today’s nomenclature, that it is NSFW (Not Safe For Work) There’s nothing nasty, filthy, perverse or truly horrible within, but if you never wanted to know certain things about me, then turn back now! Skip down to the “Books” heading! Today I’m aiming to talk about  going to the bathroom. Hitting the head, making water, going potty, visiting the loo, and more specifically, the changes that occur when living in a different state.

Odd topic for a blog? Probably. Certainly for the blogs I frequent, though I’m sure there are blogs out there exclusively dedicated to bathroom activities. Those are probably extremely not safe for work. But it’s something that I’d noticed quite some time ago and I thought it was intriguing and now, here it is again.

After high school, I lived in California for a while. Not very long, but around a year. I’d actually gone down there from Idaho to visit my best friend Rob, who was living down there. The plan was for me to ride down with him, spend a few weeks and get a ride back North with his brother when he visited. Well, his brother ended up having car trouble or something and couldn’t make it, indefinitely. That left me stranded, sleeping in a sleeping bag on the floor of Rob’s apartment with his dog, Devil, who was a little too fond of the sleeping bag.

Now that I think about it, there have been two times that I’ve found myself stranded while on a Rob-related trip. I can’t blame him for it, he and I went on many a trip, usually looking for antiques or comic books or antique comic books but this was the only other time I’ve ever been involved with a road trip that Rob’s brother, Derek was attached to. The other time was in Leavenworth in December.

It is suddenly very clear to me that I need to avoid any trip planning related to Derek at all costs. He is a bad luck charm, without a doubt.

AT any rate, I found myself stranded in Santa Clarita, CA, with Rob, his wife at the time and Devil. Well, we made the most of it, Rob and I got jobs unloading trucks at the local Wal-Mart and we worked out butts off. It wasn’t uncommon to have a paycheck with 10-20 overtime hours on it, and it was hard, strenuous work the entire shift.

At first, I hated California. It was hot, humid, ugly… It still is. I was miserable. I didn’t feel like moving, or breathing and my entire body felt like it had been doused in someone else’s armpit sweat.

Part of that was because, after living there for about a month, my own body chemistry seemed to change. My deodorant stopped being as efficient and I had to switch brands, and things started smelling different, more sulfuric, especially my urine. (Ooh look, now, you think to yourself, NOW he gets to the ooky part.) It may have been the water. Despite the residents protests, I drank the tap water and I drank a lot of it. I also ate a lot more fruit out there. At  the time it was plentiful, cheap and really fresh.

So I started smelling different. After a while I got used to it, the humidity stopped bothering me as much and things got into a type of rhythm. Then, I moved back to Idaho, riding the Greyhound bus, which was an experience that deserves a whole other blog.

Then, it happened again. About a month after living in Idaho, my body started changing. Now my pee smelled… dirtier, like a fresh, soil scent. Musty, I guess. 

Oddly, when I moved to Montana from Idaho, nothing really changed. Maybe the move wasn’t radical enough, the water and food too similar.

Now, here in Maine, it’s happening again. Only this time it’s a stronger ammonia smell, a sharp, almost vinegary smell. Am I sick? Are you for reading this? Probably the second part at least.

Maybe it’s all the malt vinegar on my chips or the questionable motel water that leaves you feeling kind of slimy after a shower. Even the soda tastes odd out here, a strange aftertaste in the back of your tongue.

All I know is that it had better equalize or I’d better get accustomed to it, ‘cause right now, it’s kind of icking me out.

Reading –

I’m still digging my nook. A lot. Which is why it annoys me so much that I now have cracks on the forward buttons on both sides of the device. I’ve read ten books since my nook came about 20 days ago, as well as half of Stephen King’s “The Stand”, which is the equivalent of at least one more book, and while that’s a lot of page turns, that is not that much. Not for a device that is designed to be used to page forward. That’s its entire reason for existing.

Barnes and Noble are replacing the cracked fronts, though it sounds like you have to send the entire device back when the new device arrives, rather than the more economical method of replacing the cracked bezel. I just have to decide if its worth getting a new one. I’ve looked at the alternatives, the Kindle and the Sony and for me, the nook worked the best for my needs, but man, I hate the idea of shelling out $280 for something that’s gonna be busted and cruddy looking after ten books. What will it look like after 50? I read 119 books last year. I’m not buying a new e-reader every year because the old one has crumbled to plastic pieces around me.


Friday, February 19, 2010

A Mexican/Irish Restaurant

That's right, you heard me. A Mexican/Irish restaurant. What's better is that it's named PEDRO O'HARA's!

That's where we ate dinner tonight around the corner from Brunswick's charming downtown, down some stairs and through two layers of thick wooden doors. We were waited on by a charming lass with freckles that reminded us of our friends the Downey's back home in Idaho. Lindsay ordered the chimichanga, and I got the Blarney, a corned beef and swiss sandwich on egg-fried rye.

Surrounded by low ceilings, green shamrocks and hot peppers, we may have found our stomachs, gently removed, doused in dark beer and used as decorations in the basement of this old brick building. The food was good, though still not legit Mexican, it was passable and the fresh fries and corned beef sammich was great. Maybe I liked it as much for the innovative fusion of pub and cantina as I did for the food and service, but I could see us going back to 'ol Pedro O'Hara's place now and again.

We are in Brunswick to do a bit of home hunting. We saw a place tonight and have tentative plans for tomorrow too. To save having to drive here, drive home, sleep, drive back, then drive home again, we got a Sooper cheapo room at the Knight's Inn, courtesy of Mr. Shatner. Awesomely ghetto place. Flat pillows, rattly fridge, runny toilet, low showerheads, street noise.. But, and this cannot be said for our current abode, it does have a desk clerk that speaks some version of teenage girl english and it has internet.

And sadly, though the bed is not extremely comfortable, it is extremely more comfortable than the one at the Northeastern.  That's right, as of right now, I live in two motels and own a house in Idaho.  I'm the mogul of lame.

Tried doing my tax returns, forgot a couple of sheets, missing a couple, possibly one or two still in Idaho. Maybe I'll just pay someone to do it for me this year....

We're headed back to Windham tomorrow afternoon-ish, where we plan to watch house hunters on TLC, cross stitch, read and make a crock pot. We are indeed the very model of a lame-o individual, but I feel fine.

Please note - Patsy Oshamus' Pepsi that I ordered that came out as Coke that tasted like Pepsi may have had something in it. I feel funny looking. Or there could be fumes in the room.

At any rate, I'm off. The digital version of Stephen King's the Stand (Lighter than the real thing!) awaits in the depths of the nook. Fun "Fact" - Part of the story takes place in Ogunquit, Maine, which Lindsay and I drove through the other day. I am aware that this is not a very fun fact. I'm not certain, but I like to assume that Ogunquit it pronounced like so - Ah Gun Quit, like when a hillbilly says he plans to stop smoking. Example - "Ah gun quit smoking on Furvesdaye, that's when mah Child Sport is due and I gots to go to court."

Thursday, February 18, 2010


Now Playing -
The Neverending Tick Of The Clock...

Life - 
For the last week, I have been the temporary Administrative Assistant for the district office at my work.

This is not a job I have any experience in, nor one that I’ve ever really had any desire to get experience in, but it has been an interesting week, make no mistake there.

Not a thrilling week though. It’s pretty obvious that they’re taking it easy, not giving me all of the tasks that a typical admin would do and as a result, I spend a good chunk of my time fiddling with things and trying to convince myself that I’m doing meaningful tasks. I dusted the plants. I spent fifteen minutes refreshing my email screen, waiting for an important missive, only to learn that it refreshes itself and makes a little beep when they arrive.

My boss, a very nice and good natured fellow has no problem with me reading my nook, but even with his blessing, I feel like I’m cheating, doing something scandalous and I feel obligated to  tuck it aside and check the computer screen when people walk past.

The worst part about the job though, is the drive. It’s apparently not excessive for this area, where up to an hour commute is not considered too long, but the 36 minute drive each way seems like a lot of wasted time to me.

Luckily, this is only a temporary post and I’ve just been officially notified that my next destination is in a store in Bath, ME. Which Lindsay and I loved on our visit. We started looking into places out there that accept pets last night and Lindsay is spending some time calling around today, in the hopes that we can head that way on Saturday and look at some potential apartments.

If I had the internet at “home” (We have not had it for a week now, if we want to check anything, we have to go to the office, rouse the landlord and make him let us into one of the closer rooms for a few minutes.)  I would post a photo here of the snow storm we got the other night. It was gorgeous and made for a bit of a harrowing and long drive home but true to the resident’s word, the street crews were on the ball and by morning, the roads were bare and clean and by nightfall, most of the snow we had received was melted away again.

Reading -

I am woefully behind on updating my reading, and I’m certain I’ve missed two or three books on the list, I just can’t remember what ones, and they’re all boxed away in Idaho. At any rate, here are the books I’ve read so far since the last update –

by Nelson DeMille
2007, 512 pages

By Bill Bryson
2006, 397 pages

By William Lashner
2003, 592 pages

By Robert Terrall
2007, 220 pages

By David Baldacci
2006, 624 pages

By Lawrence Block
1991, 304 pages

By Bill Bryson
2000, 304 pages

By James Lee Burke
2002, 275 pages

By Richard Stark
2008, 208 pages

By Richard Stark
2010, 168 pages

By Victor Gischler
2008, 336 pages

By Lawrence Watt-Evans
2005, 203 pages

A few of these were read on the nook, my new little buddy out here in a land where I don’t have my personal collection and no library card. (They frown on giving those out to people with an Idaho driver’s license and no permanent address…) So without further ado, here’s my initial review of the nook, by Barnes and Noble -

Reviews Of Unusual Size - 

The Barnes & Noble nook

I had mightily resisted liking these at first, despite my interest in e-readers, but as I’d feared, I am blown away by the convenience of reading on the nook.

The screen is a nice matte grey-white and has very crisp, clear words that legitimately feel like reading a printed page. I was pretty shocked at that. I’ve read five books or so on the nook since getting it on the fifth of this month. That’s pretty good, though a few were shorter books than usual.

5 Things I LIKE about the nook –

 -1-   Incredibly portable and convenient. I have packed this all over the place since getting it, to work, bed, in the car… I even read it as I’m brushing my teeth!

-2-   The holding capacity. I have 148 books on my nook right now, 10 from B&N, the rest side loaded from my computer. It’s very simple to load and with the expandable SD slot, I’m only using up 1% of my available memory. That’s a lot of books in there!

-3-  The ease of reading. The screen is easy on the eyes, incredibly similar in terms of eyestrain to a regular book. Even to my headache prone brain, the nook is great.

-4-  Design. Though a bit gimmicky, I’ve come to like the touch screen at the bottom of the nook. It lets you access the menus easily and without feeling too foolish and when it shuts off,  you scarcely notice it’s there, it doesn’t interfere with your reading at all.

-5-  Page turns. Though the nook has the inherent page flashes as the e-ink screen refreshes with each page turn, it’s not that distracting, and scarcely takes longer than a real page turn, which is fully fine to me. It’s easy to turn the pages too, with buttons on both sides of the device and the option to flick the pages using the touch screen once it’s gone dark. I do keep thinking the buttons should be higher on the left side though, likely to do with how I hold it with my left hand.

5 Things I DISLIKE about the nook –

-1-  Despite the upgrade and ease of use, the nook is still very buggy. It freezes a bit sometimes and you have to reset it and it does silly things now and again, like taking you to the settings page in the midst of a book.

-2-  Battery life.  Though I’m pretty sure I’m using it more than anticipated, my battery only lasts for about three days, rather than the suggested ten. It’s not that big of deal though, and I have admittedly been playing with the touch screen a lot because it’s a new toy.

-3-  Durability. Despite the ease of packing the nook around, I’m still pretty paranoid about how fragile it seems. My particular nook suffers from a problem that a few have had, the left hand forward button has cracked slightly. This is something that B&N is fixing, but it does make me a bit concerned about future problems.

-4-  The usb connector port. This is a silly little thing, but there’s a tiny ledge along the port and it’s pretty sharp edged. This is also the one spot that my finger tries to rest every time I use this thing.

-5-  The outlandish cost of accessories. Most sleeves and cases for the nook that I’ve found so far run you around fifty bucks. That seems ridiculous. Instead, I bought a case at Target on clearance for fifteen that seems pretty great. I’ll try and get pictures posted eventually.

I’m also a bit concerned about how easy it is to order books on your nook. It’s extremely simple. Like to the point that I should disable my card just in case.


I’ll likely do a new review on this once I’ve had it for a while, to see how it still holds up.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Bath On Valentines Day

First off, let me say this - I dislike Valentine's Day. I think it is a silly holiday. If you're in love you shouldn't need a specific holiday to show that special someone that you care. It should be spontaneous and heartfelt, not court-ordered and made of pink cardboard.

This may all stem from some deep-seated resentment from not getting a valentine from my crush in first grade (Not a true story) but there ya go. I also think Groundhog Day is silly, but it's the kind of silly I can get behind.

Today, we went to Bath, Maine. Mostly because it looked like fun. Bath is on a peninsula and essentially surrounded by rivers, ponds, streams, puddles, islands, the Atlantic and trees.

I would give you a bit more of a historical view, telling you about the town and it's no-doubt awesome inhabitants but my grip on the internet is tenuous at best and I dare not risk it. Perhaps at a later date, when we can do more there than drive around admiring the variety of houses and their adorable and historic downtown.

Bath, as well as the other places we stopped, like Brunswick and Popham Beach were cold and pretty dead, though there were more shops open on a Sunday afternoon that I would have thought.

We also got lost, drove to the ocean, I found a good place to hole up in the inevitable case of zombie attack (Not telling you!) Saw a lighthouse from afar, peed in a scary public restroom with a ridiculously cold draft, ate a "Barbecue" potato chip with so much cayenne I couldn't breathe for a while and we saw CEMETERIES!

Linz and I are cemetery nuts, as anyone that visits here regularly knows, and Maine has been dead folk heaven for us. Old, glorious places with weathered slabs of stone and worn down engravings. We didn't stop at any, most were along the road and closed for the winter, but we made generous use of our ThomThom's Favorites feature and dutifully logged each as we came across it. This spring, we shall be extra morbid!

Starting tomorrow, I'm the temporary administrative assistant at the district office... Not sure what I think about this gig. They're doing it to be nice to my arm, I think, but I fear it shall be boring and slow. Luckily, I have my nook! Just too bad I didn't bring any cute skirts to wear.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Sinking In

We are in a kind of limbo.

We live in a building that is no home, with no internet access or ability to become comfortable beyond the small progress we've made.

Our pets are in Idaho, 3000 miles away and we've begun missing them, without a doubt. We spent a good amount of time at breakfast today staring wistfully at a dog in a car.

I really don't know where we are going to live in the future. All of the new assistants at work will have a store, a home base, and they've been decided, but no one actually knows where they'll end up. The bad thing there is that the district is big. Spread out, with a lot of different types of stores and locations. Tiny, urban stores in the heart of the downtown and tall rural buildings in small towns to the North.

I've managed to finagle a bit of info, a few vague hints about where I'll end up, and it looks like it will be to the NorthWest about an hour or so. This adds some level of difficulty to the house hunt, especially without having the internet for searching.

Oh yeah, and money is getting tight. My checks have been a bit smaller with the vacation time and the loss of Lindsay's income. We can't really find her a job until we get a town, so we're gonna have to pinch some nickels pretty thin in the meantime.

But we're still happy and enjoying Maine. It's just gotten to feel less like a vacation, but it still hasn't started feeling secure either. Maybe soon...

Monday, February 8, 2010

Frustration and Once Again, Work.

My internet here in the great state of Maine has become increasingly erratic and useless, more often than not just working long enough to anger me when it goes down again. Usually just after I've hit submit on something, causing me to lose anything I'd typed.

But that's okay. Apart from that, we really like it here. In the next few daqys we are starting to look for a house to rent or buy, will hopefully escape this goofy little apartment and good things will happen.

I started work three days ago. My new store is full of incredibly hilarious characters, the kind that should fuel many a blog. The store manager, really more of a circus ringleader than a manager has his hands full. I've worked three full days, doing the first actual labor I've really been able to do since my accident and each evening/morning, I feel it. My back and shoulder are stiff and sore, and my left arm, which is forced to bear the brunt of my work is quite unhappy with me.

It feels good to get back to work though, and every exertion makes things easy the next day. One of the pluses of working for my company is that most stores are very much like any other store, so getting adjusted to working in one only takes as long as you need to meet and get comfortable with the employees.

Over the next few months they will be, as my boss put it, whoring me out to other stores, helping out wherever I'm needed, both setting up stores and working in established ones. Next week I work in Augusta, an hour drive from Windham, where we've set up shop for now. I just hope things settle a bit eventually so that I can get into a groove and start writing again.

Pictures soon, just not now. I started uploading pictures a few times, but the connection failed before they loaded. Bah to the internet at the Northeastern Motel.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Maine - V - Catching Up...

The next few days kind of blurred together to an extent. A lot of driving around in our car, trying new restaurants, getting lost thanks to us and found thanks to the ThomThom, and generally getting used to the town we live in now.

It's starting to sink in that this is where we live, not just where we're vacationing. It's a lot of little things, but slowly you start realizing that you're doing tasks a resident does, not a visitor.

In the interest of keeping things pretty current on ere, I'm going to crack off a few updates by subject and then try and keep up.


We found a place to live, monthly, in the Northeastern Motel, a goofy strip of white along the road between Portland and North Windham. It's run by a fast talking Greek man who is neither fully trustworthy or competent. He's very nice, but has a vibe about him that makes me think we don't want to leave cash out on our dressers while we're gone. The monthly rentals are in a 3 floor building at the end of the complex and we were lucky enough to get a top floor, facing the woods beyond.

It's a simple place, a single bedroom, bathroom and kitchen/front room. There's no real furniture, just a queen bed in the bedroom, a twin in the front room, a couple of end tables and a small table off of the kitchen. There's also an ancient sink/burner/fridge set that has a busted fridge, used for storing dishes. To make up for that, next to the door there's an oddly thin fridge that also happens to be the loudest fridge ever. When running, it makes a hum that we can hear in the stairwell outside. On the rare times it stops the compressor, the silence in the apartment is palpable.

There is also reportedly an internet connection, though I've had better luck getting online in the middle of a forest than here most of the time. I think it's mostly due to being so far from the single broadcast station, at the opposite end of the complex in the office, but I'm not about to try and explain that to the owner.


It took a while. We had to rent the car for an extra three days as we increasingly desperately looked for a used car to buy. The Honda guy never got back to us, most of the other cars we found in our price range were pieces of rusted metal, scarcely road worthy. Then we found the bumbling and hilariously good natured people at a used car place down the road from our motel. Rex and Katherine, a couple originally from up north also do repairs and state inspections, which means they have to make the car stat-approved and sticker it before they can sell it, which is a huge plus. The inspections here seem pretty decent and it adds some comfort knowing that it's in the clear. A lot of the other places we went to would sell us a car in our price range, but it would be As-Is, with no inspection or implied passage of the inspection.

We chose a cool car, a big blue boat of a station wagon with a rear facing third row and in pretty decent shape. It drove a little rough, the turn radius was extreme on it and I was a bit concerned about Lindsay driving such a large car, but we liked it and it was in our price range. She convinced me that we'd be fine with her driving it. Unfortunately, once Re3x dove into he few repairs it needed, he found a good amount of rusted, crumbling metal under the rocker panels. He could fix it, but it would be a week and he didn't feel very comfortable selling it to us. Instead, he pointed out a few other options, and we decided on a 2000 Ford, a kind of misty blue color in good shape. It actually runs better than the other, it runs really well in fact. I think it will work nicely, especially for less than three grand after fees.


I start work in the next few days, I had to delay it while we got things established. I think that will also help make it feel like we're living here officially. Now if only Lindsay could find a job...

Target, Walmart, Goodwill and the grocery stores have been getting our business a lot lately, as we bought up essentials like towels, rugs, trash cans, little things that places need.

A couple of odd things we've found about the East so far. 

And correct me if I'm off on this, I've only been here for a few days -

A lot of take-out here. Buildings we figured would be sit-down turn out to be convenience store style places with a take out grill inside.

Sauces seem thinner.

Everyone uses a lot less seasoning, including salt and pepper. Most of the meals exist on the flavors of the food, not the sauces and spices. Not a bad thing, just a surprise.

Mexican food seems virtually nonexistent. We've found one that isn't a nationwide chain, and it was very much an American take on the food.

Lots of Asian places, so far pretty good ones.

People are pretty polite drivers, stopping for pedestrians and confused drivers from Idaho.

More later!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Maine - IV - Lots Of Dead Folks Out Here

Saturday. A bit warmer, though not much and we spent the day tooling around in our rental, getting lost again, checking out the city.

Portland boasts a good sized area out by the airport dominated by the Maine Mall, a mall that is actually alive and thriving, shockingly. Most of the malls we've visited in the West are half empty edifices, filled with faked in walls and empty promises about what's coming soon but never will show up. You usually find a few food places, a couple of teen centric clothing stores and the parasitic temporary booths that lock into the middles of the aisles, selling nonsense like head massagers and jewelry made of rice.

Here, it was thriving. Apple stores, Tea stores, game shops, gift places, clothes, decor, furniture. Pretty impressive! It took a bit longer than expected to explore the shops, but it was a kick to see so many people doing things that we used to see back home. It's more embarrassing to shop at the mall back in Idaho than fun.

There is also a complex nearby with a Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, a craft store, among others, and we finally decided to bite the bullet and pick up something we've probably needed for a while. Especially as often as we get "wrong state lost" on road trips. Our little GPS has been dubbed ThomThom, just to be special and until the update recently, had a woefully out of date map that happily led us into creepy dead ends that even we would have never chosen. Thanks, ThomThom! One trip, while looking for a Hannafords, a grocery chain, it led us into the dark, mysterious depths of a suburb. We figured it was gonna get to something eventually, but, though it tried, all it could find was a Hannaford Distribution Center in the middle of nowhere.

After a few minutes back in the room with our little square navigator though, we now have vaguely more accurate maps and ThomThom can now speak with the accent of a lovely Irish lass and in the comforting tones of a confused Homer Simpson. He gets outrageously excited when he actually gets us to where we wanted to go, so he fits in well with us.

There was still the matter of transportation and lodging, so we hit up any car lots and motels we passed. The Honda dealer was very nice and helpful, and we left with promises of a call about a car on Monday.

The highlight of the day? Not Macaroni Grill, which we had for lunch. Our waitress was blah and rude and maybe it's a East coast thing, but the sauces were so watery that they wouldn't stick to the noodles. Dinner was better, we ate at the impressive and low key Jan Mee a few blocks from our hotel.

But for us, the highlight, without a doubt were the abundant and stunning cemetaries. We didn't stop at any, it was too cold and we wanted to have time to really enjoy it, but we saw three that day. Including one, tiny, crazy, utterly shockingly located one right next to the light before Target. That's right, they have so many dead people that they shove 'em into the ground in a ten foot square of soil in the middle of no where. I assume it used to be some small family plot before they built the stores. I can't wait to find out!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Maine - III - In Portland

Portland, Maine was cold. Not just cold, but frigid, make your bones ache cold. Sunny, pretty blue sky, but hard to see through the icicles hanging from your eyelashes. Turns out, a day or so ago, we had missed forty degree weather, rain, melting snow, premature grass hesitantly peeking out. Then, an uncommonly fierce cold snap hit, right around the time we flew in.

Came with us or because of us, I cannot say, but clearly, my ego will not allow it to be anything but related to our arrival! We muscled through nonetheless and ventured blindly into the town.

We didn't really have a goal in mind; we couldn't check into our hotel for a while and we knew nothing about the place, so we just blundered around randomly! We drove between looming old buildings, stained with time, and cruised along high streets above the bay, lined with houses that, in Pocatello, would each have been an item of wonder and admiration. Here, though still admirable, to be sure, these houses were commonplace! Three and four story plaqces with rambling gables and shuffling towers. Thick pillars and stained glass. Needless to say, we wanted to break in to each, just to wander around.

Eventually, we found ourselves in the Old Port district, attempting to get into a visitor's center closed for the season. Denied, we drove a few blocks and parked, intending to walk along the street and look at the shops. That quickly turned into speed walking along the sidewalk, ducking into the shops in an attempt to find any shred of warmth available before our noses fell off. We even stopped into a relator. Sure, we'll be looking for a place eventually, but really, the next building was across the street and some distance away.

We ate at Gilbert's for lunch, our first meal in Maine. We had the fish and chips special and a bowl of clam chowder. Great food. The fish was fresh and very delicate and moist, the fries were thick, hot and served with malt vinegar and the chowder may be the best we've found in our travels so far. The service was good too, and the restaurant was liberally decorated with old photos and goofy knick knacks. The only downside was having to run five blocks back to the car to feed the meter.

After lunch, we drove around again, got lost a bit, got lost some more, found some of it, lost that, finally finding our superb and completely awesome hotel, The Inn At St. Johns. This hotel is Portland's longest running lodging house, standing three stories high and originally built to service the train yards nearby. Now it's close to the hospital and a few little restaurants and still has a lot of old world charms.

Colorful wallpaper, decorative chandeliers, punched tin roofs, everything about it made us happy and a bit jealous. The inn is totally old school, most have detached baths and while they have some modern amenities, like wifi and mini fridges, you still get the feeling of being in another time. We would have stayed there for a long, long time if we could have afforded it. (Although the bed was far too hard, and made me feel like a rusted spring in the morning...)

If you do think of staying at the Inn, and I think everyone should, do be forewarned, there is no elevator and the only way up to your rooms is by ascending a very steep, long staircase to the second floor. There's no messing around with this puppy. By the time I was done manhandling my oversized luggage up, I felt like I'd dislocated a shoulder and that the stairs had begun leaning backwards, looming over me like something out of a Tim Burton film.

For dinner, we dined across the street, after an aborted attempt to walk to what I'd thought was a nearby Rite Aid for kleenex. (Turns out, the drug store was about 6 blocks further along. Good thing we turned back!) The Pizza Villa was a hoot. Funny waitresses giving me sass and awesome lamb sausage pizza, meatball subs and soda for less than twenty bones. Approved! Then we headed back across the street and hit the sack.